Thursday, May 30, 2024

Basketball Ireland outraged by anti-Semitism accusation

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Basketball Ireland has called accusations of anti-semitism by an Israeli player against the Irish women’s team “inflammatory and wholly inaccurate”, saying it had reported the comments to governing body FIBA Europe.

The sides’ EuroBasket qualifier tomorrow has been overshadowed by a campaign for Ireland to boycott the fixture, which will be played in Latvia due to the ongoing war in Gaza.

Basketball Ireland insist they can not afford the financial or competitive implications of not playing the game, with CEO John Feehan telling RTÉ Sport yesterday that the potential sanctions could set the Ireland women’s team back a decade.

Several players have opted not to travel for the game, which will be played on neutral territory after Ireland refused to host the return fixture, due to be played in November, first instead.

Israel head coach Sharon Drucker said that the Irish “did not respect” what sport symbolises after he and his players had posed for pictures with armed Israeli soldiers at the weekend, while in an interview published on the Israeli Basketball Federation’s website yesterday, player Dor Sa’ar said of the Irish that “It’s known that they are quite anti-Semitic and it’s no secret, and maybe that’s why a strong game is expected.

“We have to show that we’re better than them and win. We talk about it among ourselves, We know they don’t like us and we will leave everything on the field always and in this game especially.”

Basketball Ireland responded, in a statement to the Irish Independent, expressing its dismay at Sa’ar’s comments.

“Basketball Ireland is aware of comments made by a member of the Israeli team and published on official Israeli Federation channels, ahead of this week’s FIBA Women’s EuroBasket 2025 Qualifier,” the statement said.

“Basketball Ireland is extremely disappointed by these accusations, which are both inflammatory and wholly inaccurate.

“Basketball Ireland would refute these allegations towards our players in the strongest possible terms and we have raised this matter with FIBA Europe.”

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